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Messing with Memoir: Dross, rubbish and the rewriting

April 6, 2021

Post 4: April 6, 2021

Rewriting things isn’t so bad. That’s where material brightens, comes alive, and gets purged of the dross, as the Bible says.

When I hovered over my word there, “dross” to check for synonyms and make sure I was using the right word, it brought up my writing professor’s favorite word for really poor writing, “rubbish.”

I like that word too. And I will pay tribute here to the unforgettable Omar Eby who truly steered me into better writing and perhaps this career I have loved so much. Maybe he wouldn’t want to own his influence, but for better or worse, he was absolutely one of my favorite professors for having the nerve to use strong words such as rubbish. Omar (as we called our profs by their first names), sadly, had dementia in his last years. At a nearby “cottage” type facility where my church caroled, he seemed to remember me but perhaps he was just being his polite self. He died earlier this year which I wrote about here.

College kid, senior year.

When you reflect on the teachers who have steered you, who stands out? I could name many more: Mrs. Galt, a middle school teacher who submitted an early essay to our very small town paper–and they published it. Miss Hoover, a high school English teacher who frequently read my work aloud in class. Gretchen, an editor in college who said I was writing like I was still in high school, but she steered me well, I think. A magazine editor who said I wrote with “verve.” I loved that. Especially since he paid me frequently: small amounts, but the money wasn’t the important thing. An eventual boss who gave me a chance to …. oh, but I’m getting into my memoir here. We’ll save that for later!!

Any teachers or editors or bosses you want to name?

Sing their praises in the comments.

From → Memoir Writing

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